Doyle to Auction The Sarah Belk Gambrell Collection of European Porcelain on June 24

  • NEW YORK, New York
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  • June 16, 2021

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A Selection of Bristol Porcelain from The Sarah Belk Gambrell Collection.

Doyle will offer The Sarah Belk Gambrell Collection of European Porcelain in a landmark single-owner auction on Thursday, June 24 at 10am. This exceptional collection was assembled over many decades by Belk department store heiress and passionate philanthropist Sarah Belk Gambrell. Mrs. Gambrell who died last year at age 102, was a resident of Charlotte, NC.

The public is invited to the exhibition on view Friday, June 18 through Monday, June 21 at Doyle, located at 175 East 87th Street in New York. View the catalogue and place bids at


Also on view will be Asian porcelain from the Collection to be auctioned on September 20.  Furnishings and art from the Collection will be offered in October.

European & Asian Porcelain
The Sarah Belk Gambrell Collection traces the early history of European porcelain through rare 18th century examples by the most prominent Continental manufacturers, including Meissen, Vincennes and Vienna, as well as the important English factories of Chelsea, Bristol, Longton Hall and others. A sophisticated collector, Mrs. Gambrell concentrated on pieces of superb quality and condition that illustrate the diversity of wares produced by fine European factories.

A Selection of Chelsea Porcelain from The Sarah Belk Gambrell Collection

Mrs. Gambrell’s collecting extended beyond European examples to include Japanese and Chinese porcelain. Three pieces in the Collection reflect Mrs. Gambrell’s interest in the European fascination with Asian luxury goods. An 18th century Japanese Kakiemon hexagonal bowl in the Collection is mirrored by European examples in the Kakiemon style produced by the factories of Meissen and Chelsea.

The rarest highlight of the Collection is a partial Chinese Imperial porcelain vase that reflects the Qianlong Emperor’s (1735-1796) admiration for the European aesthetic. Decorated in Falangcai, or “foreign enamels,” the vase depicts a colorful scene of two European women and a child in a garden. Falangcai was the most expensive and challenging decorating technique employed by the Imperial workshop. The jewel-like colors it produced were unparalleled in their brilliance.

Fine & Decorative Arts
Fine English and Continental furniture, decorative arts and Old Master paintings from Mrs. Gambrell’s elegant home in the Eastover section of Charlotte and her New York apartment on Park Avenue will be auctioned at Doyle in October.

Sarah Belk Gambrell
The daughter of Belk department store founder William Henry Belk, Sr., Sarah Belk Gambrell (1918-2020) spent her life as a trailblazer. Charting a path in a retail world run by men, she coordinated the women’s wear and cosmetics businesses for hundreds of Belk stores across the South. In 1952, she married banker Charles Glenn Gambrell, and the pair maintained homes in Charlotte and New York.

Meissen Porcelain Documentary Dated Ogival Quatrefoil Bowl from the 'Christie-Miller Service,' Circa 1740, blue crossed swords mark. The Sarah Belk Gambrell Collection.

A generous philanthropist, Mrs. Gambrell was a tireless advocate for women and other marginalized groups nationwide, and in her native city of Charlotte. She served on the national, NYC and Charlotte boards of the YWCA and donated generously to the Mint Museum, Opera Carolina and the Charlotte Philharmonic Orchestra. Among her educational philanthropies were Queens University in Charlotte, Johnson C. Smith University and Furman University. She supported medical institutions, including the NYU Cancer Institute, the UNC Cancer Center in Chapel Hill, and the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation. She helped build NC’s first homeless shelter for LGBT kids by donating to Time Out Youth.

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